Thanksgiving Day is almost upon us. A few days ago, Penguin Books launched #thankthebook, asking readers to tweet about the book that made them love reading. I don’t have a clear memory of the first book I loved, but immediately I thought of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series — and tweeted that they introduced me to the multifaceted magic of life, stretching my imagination and my heart.
Inspired by this Thank-the-Book idea, I selected ten books that I am thankful for — not because they made me love reading, but more for how they have affected me. Though all ten are definitely among my favourite books, it was interesting to realise as I was pulling books from my shelves that I don’t necessarily feel gratefulness for a book simply because I love it.
This week I pulled one of my all-time favourite books, a more recently remembered favourite, and two books I’ve had on my shelves for years but haven’t yet read. I wonder how long it would take if I made myself sit down and read all those as-yet unread books on my shelves — months? years?
Have you ever thought about how people often have books on their shelves that they haven’t read, but rarely own cds or dvds that they haven’t yet listened to or watched. Why does owning unread books seem normal, but unwatched movies seem silly?
I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but this year, I thought it might be good to take a more active approach to reading. I don’t think I’ve ever made an ‘official’ reading plan before. Unless you count the summer before my senior year in high school, when I tried to read ahead for my A.P. English class based on what my brothers had read for the same teacher in previous years (can you say nerd?).
Part Two of this gift guide focuses on books written by JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Charles Dickens, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, along with their movie counterparts. If you buy [from Amazon] today, you could still get these gifts in time for Christmas!
» Don’t miss Part One (highlighting female authors: Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, and Louisa May Alcott).
And so begins the first tale ever told of a hobbit. What is a hobbit? They are a tiny people who love bright colours, lush gardens and green fields, rich food and a good pint, and think home is the best place you could be. And they came to life in the imagination of a certain Englishman in the early 1900s.
Tolkien creates clever, witty and profound dialogue, which Jackson pulls from for his film adaptations, but there are narrative lines that can’t quite be captured or translated in a film — like this one “when there was less noise and more green”. More green? Seriously? So good.
Part of Tolkien’s mastery is in making the simplest string of words tell the most profound thoughts. Whether it’s Bilbo muttering practical encouragement to himself or Thorin having a bit of a lightbulb moment, Tolkien shows that you don’t have to use fancy words to get deep concepts across.
Beyond creating entire languages for elves and orcs, Tolkien was known for making up English words as well. As you read The Hobbit, you might find yourself confidently checking a dictionary for a definition only to find it not there, because with Tolkien’s knowledge of the fundamentals of language, his made-up words sound real.
Here are a few words (regular English and Tolkien-ese) that might make you search Google. Interestingly, several of the words were synonymous with confusion.